UK weather: Beaches on 'red alert' as crowds bask in 35C heatwave before thunderstorms strike

9 August 2020, 14:47

Bournemouth beach is packed again today
Bournemouth beach is packed again today. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Thousands have crammed onto beaches for the third day in a row as an August heatwave sizzles Britain.

Nine beaches around Bournemouth, on the Dorset coast, have been placed on “red alert” by the seaside town’s council, indicating safe social distancing is “not possible”, despite pleas for holidaymakers to stay away.

Elsewhere, police and council officials have been deployed to turn away cars amid overflowing car parks and long tailbacks near coastal resorts.

The mercury was forecast to reach 35C on Sunday - with Kent, Sussex and parts of London being the most likely to see the highest temperatures.

But the Met Office warned “severe thunderstorms” are likely early next week.

READ MORE: HM Coastguard sees highest call-outs in four years

Thousands of sunseekers have gathered at Bournemouth
Thousands of sunseekers have gathered at Bournemouth. Picture: PA
Thunderstorms are set to strike
Thunderstorms are set to strike. Picture: PA

Southern and central England were expected to enjoy temperatures in the high 20Cs or low 30Cs on Sunday, while parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland may hit 24C.

Met Office forecaster Craig Snell said: “There is some contrast. For some of us the heatwave will continue on Sunday and beyond.”

People in Dorset are being urged to avoid Lulworth and Durdle Door due to large numbers already in the coastal areas, and officials said they are closing roads to manage traffic. Long trails of cars have also lined Camber Sands in Essex.

A further 15 beaches in and around Bournemouth were on amber alert on Sunday afternoon for "congested" scenes.

On Saturday, HM Coastguard dealt with 340 incidents across the whole of the UK - the highest number of call-outs in a single day for well over four years.

Coastguard and RNLI crews have seen a huge spike in rescues
Coastguard and RNLI crews have seen a huge spike in rescues. Picture: PA
Beaches began filling up early this morning
Beaches began filling up early this morning. Picture: PA

The Coastguard co-ordinated search and rescue responses to a wide range of incidents, including people being cut off by the tide and children swept out to sea on inflatables.

In total, the service rescued 146 people and assisted a further 371.

A man in his 20s drowned in a quarry at Bawsey Pits near King's Lynn, Norfolk, a six-year-old boy almost died after his inflatable swan was swept out to sea in North Wales, and men were pictured "tombstoning" Durdle Door - an activity that saw a 13-year-old boy airlifted to hospital with spinal injuries at Sgwd Gwladys waterfall, Powys, on Friday.

Southend beach in Essex was busy on Saturday as temperatures soared
Southend beach in Essex was busy on Saturday as temperatures soared. Picture: PA

Saturday's top temperature was 34.5C - which was recorded at Frittenden in Kent, Wiggonholt in West Sussex, and Herstmonceux in East Sussex, the Met Office said.

But thunderstorm warnings have been issued for all parts of the UK for Monday through to Wednesday, with the Met Office cautioning: “Some places are likely to see severe thunderstorms early next week - but there is significant uncertainty in location and timing.”

Dan Harris, Met Office deputy chief meteorologist, said some places are likely to be hit with up to 80mm of rain in just a few hours.

He said that “the ingredients are there” for them to strike, but “it's just too early to pinpoint the details of exactly where and when thunderstorms will occur”.